Posted by: emmaharger | April 6, 2012

Man of the Day 4/6: Anton Khudobin

Anton Khudobin (or Антон Худобин in Cyrillic letters)

Born May 7, 1986 (age 25) in Ust-Kamenogorsk, USSR (Kazakhstan)

Goaltender for the Boston Bruins

Khudobin was a natural choice for my next Man of the Day. The Kazakh netminder started out between the pipes in Kazakhstan, but moved to Russia and went to the Metallurg hockey school to improve his game, after which time he came to North America to try his hand in the Canadian juniors system. With the Saskatoon Blades, he helped the team to their best regular-season finish in more than 10 years and rocketed them past the first round of the playoffs when that hadn’t happened for a while either. He spent another year back in Russia before signing a three-year entry-level with the Minnesota Wild, the team that drafted him in 2004.

First he split his time between the Wild’s AHL and ECHL teams. (Fun fact: he was named ECHL goalie of the year in 2008. The 2012 goalie of the year is Jeff Jakaitis from the Gwinnett Gladiators. Just a cool connection there.) He earned a few showings in St. Paul and was expected to be the team’s backup when Josh Harding got hurt in September 2010, but instead the team signed Jose Theodore and Khudobin went back to the Houston Aeros. The injury bug chomped on Minny’s goalies in January 2011, so Khudobin’s number was called and he did his best, posting a few losses before earning a 4-0 shutout against Vancouver.

It's an old Kazakh custom to munch on your souvenir pucks if you've done a good job.

He came to Boston in February 2011 and was assigned to Providence. They used him as an emergency goalie in the playoffs, though he never saw playing time, but the organization gave him a Cup ring and he was included in the team picture. He didn’t meet the requirements for name engraving, though. But in July 2011, he signed an extension with Boston and returned to Providence for 2011-12. Earlier in March 2012, when Tuukka Rask was injured, the goalie line of succession was in a bit of a bad state: Khudobin was hurt too, so he couldn’t be called up yet, and eventually Marty Turco was signed to help ease the strain on Tim Thomas. But Khudobin is feeling well again and just played his first game as a Boston Bruin. The fanbase has been carefully learning how Khudobin likes his name pronounced (who-dough-bin) and hearing testimony from P-Bruins followers about how good he can be between the pipes. Here’s hoping he continues to do well for the Bruins, whichever ones they may be.

I mean, who doesn't love a goofball goalie with a great kissy face?

 


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